Judge Dredd Megazine (#375 – 380) – Various

4 out of 5

For better or worse, the Meg always slightly lags behind 2000 AD for me.  The risk of the non-JD story, since the book is monthly, can sink things if its not a winner, and the same monthly pace removes some of the urgency of the Dredd stories.  But when it works, it really works, and these months’ of issues smartly scattered us about the Dredd-verse with some wonderfully varied tales.

The opening Dredd was up and down, but nicely varied.  Michael Carrol continues to build on his Emerald Isle tale, first with a glimpse into Dredd’s recovery during that arc, and then in 380, the start of exploring the after-effects in Tex Cit.

Peter Milligan returns to Dredd after who knows how long for a typically underwhelming two parter about a crazed Psi-Div judge who helps Dredd solve a case.  However, like the recent Counterfeit Girl, Millie packs some interesting ideas in there and successfully avoids his general poetic indulgences.

The definite highlight, though, was the funny and sad Monkey Business.  The Wyatt and Lynch droids give us Judge Harry Heston, who, through circumstance, has come to view Judge Dredd as an idol, mimicking his hero in all manners – including being a successful judge!  …Albeit not an official one.  This was an unexpectedly wacky but nuanced treat.

Realm of the Damned took a while to find its place between shock piece and valid vampire-hunter tale, but once it hit its stride, it really kept going.  Concluding in these months, the ending couldn’t not be slightly underwhelming, and the last battle was stretched out a bit too long to overcome this, but it still added up to a really solid standalone tale, and Pye Parr’s art was a standout, each and every entry.

Blunt’s backhalf wrapped up here as well, exploring a very un-Meg part of the Dreddverse. Edginton’s strips tend to have a lot of scope without focus, and this followed suit.  We got an interesting world, but the trek through tue forest Blunt was leading lost its sense of motivation early on.  But this didn’t prevent the strip from being entertaining – and like with Realm of the Damned, Boo Cook’s bizarre neon palette and bubbly characters made for intriguing pages.

In another corner of that world – via flashback – we have Rennie’s Mean Angel story, Angelic.  The revenge tale coasts by with typically enjoyable terse dialogue from Rennie and moody art from Lee Carter, but admittedly, this was the kind of tale that seemed like it would resonate more with awareness of the character’s history, which I frankly don’t have.

Alec Worley’s Dredd movie universe stories haven’t caught me yet, but it was fun to shift the focus to Anderson for a few issues, showing her growth beyond rookie status.

The other big highlight, of course, was the happily oversized conclusion to the current Lawless story, and then – it couldn’t come soon enough! – the start of the next arc in 380, directly following up on the results of outing Munce, Inc.

The standard interrogations are included (which I continue to enjoy, but if they aren’t yer cuppa nothing has changed in the front), however, the other text entry, starting with 375, is an update to Thrill Power Overload – the ongoing 2000 AD history.  This covers an incredible amount of info, and I think is fascinating whether you were there for the issues discussed or not.  With Rebellion’s purchase of the IPC catalogue, 380 also has a good look at Battle, which I’d always wanted to know more about.

A pretty perfectly varied set of issues for the Meg.